Levoscoliosis and Dextroscoliosis Scoliosis Directions

Scoliosis is a type of spinal deformity that can cause levoscoliosis (spinal curve to the left) or dextroscoliosis (spinal curve to the right). You can have one or more curves of the spine of varying curvature, and each curve can involve a small or large area of the spine. Scoliosis can affect the cervical, thoracic, and/or lumbar portions of the spine.

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Levoscoliosis and Dextroscoliosis

A doctor examines a young patient's spine.

sylv1rob1 / Deposit Photos


To diagnose the direction of your lateral spinal curve, your doctor will determine the direction of the spinal column deviation from the midline of your body. In people with a straight spine, the column is generally located at the midline area.

Levoscoliosis refers to a spinal curvature that bows out to the left. If the spinal column deviates to the left relative to the midline of the body, the curve would be diagnosed as levoscoliosis.

Levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis refer to curve direction in relation to the midline of your body.

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Levoscoliosis — Curve Direction

Diagram of a levoscoliosis.
Diagram of a levoscoliosis. BSIP/UIG/Universal Images Group

When you first look at the image above, the curve might appear as if it is going to the right side. This may be because the patient is side bending to the right as a result of the bones of the spine having moved away from the midline and towards the left.

Because the spinal bones are left of center, the patient's spinal balance is interrupted, and the person tends to drop over, or side bend, to the right. In this way, the patient finds the best possible support for upright posture, given the fact that they are dealing with a levoscoliosis.

Out of day in and day out posture and movement habits, the muscles on either side of the levoscoliosis may weaken and tighten, eventually keeping the posture in a side bend.

So if you see the spine move to the left, as it does in this diagram and in the picture that follows, it could mean that the curve is going to the left.

Over time, these muscle conditions may worsen, increasing both the degree of the levoscoliosis and the degree of the side bend.

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Levoscoliosis

Spinal curve.
Levoscoliosis. Genna Naccache/The Image Bank/Getty Images

A levoscoliosis can appear as if a person is deliberately bending. In this instance of levoscoliosis, the curve is in the lower back.

Experts suggest that left thoracic spine curves have a slightly higher tendency to be associated with diseases, while right thoracic curves are more likely to develop in the absence of disease.

However, every case of scoliosis deserves a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause. Issues like the age of scoliosis onset and other underlying medical conditions should help guide additional testing.

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Dextroscoliosis — Direction of the Curve

Depictions of a skeleton with a straight spine and a spine with dextroscoliosis.
Depictions of a skeleton with a straight spine and a spine with dextroscoliosis. SCIEPRO/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Dextroscoliosis is a spinal column that bows out to the patient's right. In a dextroscoliosis, the body tends to side bend to the left.

Most of the time, a dextroscoliosis occurs in the thoracic spine.

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Levoscoliosis and Dextroscoliosis X-Ray

X Ray of a scoliosis
X Ray of dextroscoliosos on top and levoscoliosis on the bottom. NI QIN/E+/Getty Images

An X-ray is an important part of diagnosing scoliosis and determining the location and extent of spine misalignment. In the X-ray above, there is an area of dextroscoliosis and an area of levoscoliosis. In this image of an x-ray, the thoracic spine (top part) shows a dextroscoliosis, and the lumbar spine (bottom part) shows a levoscoliosis.

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  1. Goldberg CJ, Moore DP, Fogarty EE, Dowling FE. Left thoracic curve patterns and their association with disease. Spine. 1999;24(12):1228-33. doi:10.1097/00007632-199906150-00010

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